Timothy Warren, director of public utilities for Perrysburg, admits his perspective on water and sewer infrastructure is a bit "hokey," but he nonetheless stated it before the city council's Health, Sanitation, and Public Utilities committee this week.
"Water is life for all of us," he said, adding that infrastructure was a community's most valuable asset.
To maintain and update this infrastructure, Mr. Warren proposed a 4.7 percent combined water and sewer rate increase for customers.
He presented conclusions from a citywide study, held every four years, to the committee at its regular meeting Tuesday.
The revenue would be used for improvement projects over the next four years, said Mark Dunsmoor, public utilities commissioner.
Mr. Warren said the rate hike compensated for the city of Toledo increasing the fee it charges Perrysburg for the sale of water by 9 percent. Buying water accounts for 55 percent of the department's budget, he said.
A small measure of relief was proposed for customers who use low amounts of water. Minimum charges typically are calculated for 1,000 cubic feet of water per quarter, but Mr. Warren suggested lowering the mark to 900 cubic feet which in turn has the effect of reducing the minimum rate from $36.49 to $35.31.
"It's not a major reduction but is a significant enough reduction" for those customers who don't use much water, he said.
Other increases were proposed in capital expansion charges and for infiltration and inflow charges.
Mr. Warren said the rates should be implemented by Jan. 1, 2013. The committee agreed 3-0 to recommend action to city council, which next meets Nov. 6.
The public utilities director said Perrysburg's rates were near the statewide average.
Mr. Warren offered the following comparison of water and sewer rates on an annual basis:
- Perrysburg: water, $488; sewer, $776; total, $1,264.
- Statewide: water, $564; sewer, $608; $1,172.
"We've got to appreciate that they're not low," Mr. Warren said of the rates.
He pointed out that the city is well on its way through EPA-mandated improvements, with 17 years in a 20-year plan completed. Of $40 million in sewer separation and waste water treatment projects, $22 million worth has been completed in the last five years, he said.
"I think it's good to always be ahead of the curve," he said in reference to EPA requirements.
Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at email@example.com or 419-356-8786.